Urgent Action Alert: Save the Striped Bass – Comments Needed by Feb. 7!

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Dr. David Ostrach, Science Advisor for Allied Fishing Groups & Northern California Guides and Sportsmen’s Association, speaks not the need to set numerical goals for striped bass at December’s Fish and Game Commission meeting in Sacramento. Photo by Dan Bacher.


The February 21, 2020 meeting agenda for the California Fish and Game Commission where the Commission’s Delta fisheries and striped bass policies will be discussed and probably voted on is now available at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=177021&inline. Please refer to the agenda for important meeting information and deadlines. 

Anglers need to submit their letters by Friday, February 7, arguing that a numerical goal of 1.1 million striped bass must be included in the striped bass policy. 

The striped bass policy MUST include the following; “An appropriate target objective is to restore the population to 1 million adults within the next 5 to 10 years taking into account the availability of habitat to support the species.”

Send your comments to: Executive Director Melissa Miller-Henson
fgc@fgc.ca.gov | (916) 653-4899

Dave Hurley issued this action alert in his Hot Sheet today:

We have been following this striped bass story since the first meeting in June, and it is very clear after the December meeting that the plan from the Fish and Game Commission has been to delay, delay, delay the decision until they have worn out the advocacy for the striped bass.

The writing in on the wall for the Commission to approve the changes to the 1996 Striped Bass Policy at the February 21st meeting since after three packed meetings, it seems that the momentum has been halted enough to squeeze this through under our noses.

We have the opportunity by tomorrow to send in an email to the Commission expressing your concerns.

This is from James Stone, president of the Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association –

“It’s very important for everyone to send emails to the commission by Friday on the striped bass! It’s very important to remind them to keep the numeric targets of 1.1 million striped bass as a goal for population! Make sure you include that there is no science to prove the striped bass having a major effect on salmon.”

From Roger Mammon of the California Striped Bass Association – West Delta Chapter

Concerned Members of the California Striped Bass Association:

“Captain Jim Cox has prepared a list of items for our members to include into letters sent to the Fish & Game Commission regarding the Striped Bass Policy.  It appears that it may be difficult for people to attend the February 21st meeting.  It therefore behooves us to inundate the Commission with letters to show support of a meaningful Striped Bass Policy.  Please take a few minutes to write a letter including some or all of the points listed.  Letters can be addressed to the Commission as follows:

Letters written to the Fish and Game Commission

Rather than a form letter that everybody signs onto, I feel that individual letters written in your own words will have far more effect.

The points that you should include:

The striped bass policy MUST include the following;

An appropriate target objective is to restore the population to 1 million adults within the next 5 to 10 years taking into account the availability of habitat to support the species.”

Points to support our position

All other species that have policies without numeric goals ALL have management plans except striped bass. Management plans usually will have the goals included in them. Without a management plan the goal must be included in the policy.

The species that do not have goals in the policies are mostly commercial species with landing receipts and or hatchery tags , as in the case of salmon, that help to monitor the health of the species. There is no such reporting for the strictly recreational take of striped bass.

The CDFW has not even done a striped bass count in over ten years. There is no current information on the status of the striped bass population

It appears that the F&G Commission will be voting to approve the delta fisheries policy. In that policy, paragraph III states that “The Department shall rely on credible science (as defined by Section 33 of the Fish and Game code) to develop strategies and recommendations for managing delta fisheries” If they then arbitrarily change the existing striped bass policy without at least a striped bass count done first they will immediately be violating this new delta fisheries policy. This section 33 is also part of the Fish and Game code so any changes made to the striped bass policy without using “credible science” would be violating the law as well.

Stress this point. We are not opposed to changes in the existing striped bass policy. We want at least a comprehensive striped bass count to establish the current population level. Then make changes to the policy from an informed perspective.

In the stakeholders negotiating session all the fishing groups, both recreational and commercial (Nor-Cal guides assoc.) were insisting on the 1 million target number. The only votes against it were the water contractors.

Without a target number the policy has no back bone. Without the target number this policy becomes a policy of no action on striped bass. The CDFW has not done a thing for striped bass in over 2 decades. This policy is the excuse to continue to do nothing.

sThree Top Scientific Experts on Stripers Urge Commission to Increase and Enhance Striper Population

During the December Fish and Game Commission meeting, the three top experts on striped bass in California – fishery scientists Dr. David Ostrach, Dr. Cynthia LeDoux Bloom and Dr. Peter Moyle – spoke on the need to increase and enhance the population of striped bass, a permanent part of the Delta ecosystem, along with listed fish species. In fact, reducing numbers of striped bass would likely have a negative impact on the ecosystem, according to the scientists.

“I appreciate the efforts of the Commission to develop a holistic fishery management policy for the Delta and for striped bass in particular,” said Dr. Peter Moyle, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Center for Watershed Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, UC Davis.

“I encourage you to treat the striped bass as an important member of the San Francisco Estuary system, including the Delta and avoid actions designed to reduce its declining abundance even further. In fact, I encourage you to take steps to increase striped bass numbers because it would reflect a general improvement in the Delta ecosystem.”

“I write this as an academic researcher, professor and author who has studied fishes of the estuary for nearly 50 years, including establishing a Suisun Marsh Monitoring program that has sampled fish on a monthly basis since January, 1979. One of the principal fishes captured in our samples over the decades is striped bass, which has given me an appreciation of their importance to the estuary’s ecosystem.”

“The upshot of all this background is that regulations for managing striped bass should not be aimed at reducing its population but increasing it or at least stabilizing it. We especially need management actions that reduce removal of large fish from the system.”

Dr. Cynthia Le Doux-Bloom, who formerly worked for the CDFW and DWR, mostly studying anadromous salmonids, told the Commission: “It is not defensible to blame striped bass on the collapse of the Sacramento River salmon population. Too many studies have shown that entrainment into the Central Valley and State Water Projects is the major source of fish mortality.”

“It’s interesting to note that the Board of Fish Commissioners, the predecessor to the Fish and Game Commission was formed in 1870 – 150 years ago – the Board of Fish Commissioner’s first laws enacted were to protect the Sacramento River’s declining salmon (California Fish and Game 1933). It is important to note, that the salmon population was first recorded to be in decline a decade prior to the introduction of striped bass,” she stated.

Dr. David Ostrach, Science Advisor for Allied Fishing Groups & Northern California Guides and Sportsmen’s Association,  said, “Those I represent don’t believe there is a need for or resources available within the Department to implement the proposed Delta Fisheries Management Policy. Currently the Department has approximately 30% of the funding necessary to implement its current policies and resource obligations. How would this new policy be implemented with no funding or resources currently available?”

“Those that proposed the initial version of the DFMP (The Coalition for Sustainable Delta and their allies) have no real interest in advocating for fair and responsible public trust fisheries resource policies. Rather they’ve made it clear in recent stakeholder meetings that their motivation is to ‘get more water for their clients.’ The original draft of the DFMP was completely unacceptable and would have likely resulted in the further decline or destruction of striped bass and other recreational fisheries.”

However, we have engaged in very productive meetings with stakeholders, Commission staff and Department staff with the understanding that there will be a DFMP policy adopted by the Commission. We have come to a basic agreement on proposed language for the DFMP. We are committed to continue productive dialogue on outstanding issues. Our hope is that the DFMP will be a policy that insures that all public trust resource fisheries will be managed based on the best available science in a sustainable and holistic manner.”  

“Pitting one fishery against another as a cause for fishery populations collapse is a diversionary tactic that has gone for decades and must end. There is no credible scientific evidence that striped bass, Black Bass or any Delta species is responsible for the collapse of the estuaries’ once great fisheries. The overwhelming majority of credible science points to water related issues (e.g. flows, diversions, temperature, water quality), loss of habitat and contaminants as being the major stressors driving the collapse of the estuaries ecosystem and fisheries. The focus of the Commission and State agencies responsible for public trust resources should be on enacting responsible fisheries and environmental policies that ensure the restoration of the Delta ecosystem which would benefit all fisheries.”